Census Data Shows Increases in Income, Earnings of College Graduates

Quick Takeaways:

  • Those with postsecondary degrees or some college continue to earn more than those with only a high school education or less.
  • College graduates, associate degree holders, and those with some college saw increases in their income and earnings from 2012 to 2013.

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Incomes and earnings among college graduates increased from the first quarter (Q1) of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, indicating that a college education continues to hold economic value, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data released Wednesday shows the estimated income and earnings for Q1 2013 (January, February and March) broken down by several characteristics, including level of educational attainment. The data covered income and earnings estimates for individuals (personal), families (two or more people living together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption), and household (the combined income and earnings of all people who live together regardless of their relationship).

Overall, college graduates, those with associate degrees or vocational certificates, or some college but no degree saw increases in their income and earnings, while those with a high school education or less saw declines. These trends are similar to those found in other reports that examine the long-term financial benefits of higher education, many of which conclude that higher education continues to be worth the investment by students and families. 

Income

According to the data, the average total personal income for college graduates in Q1 2013 was $13,866, up from $13,545 in the same quarter of 2012. The average total family income for those with a college degree was $20,159 in Q1 2013, up from $19,735 in Q1 2012, and the total average household income in Q1 2013 was $16,968, up from $16,868.

The average total monthly income for individuals who graduated from college increased from $3,118 in Q1 2012 to $3,215 in Q1 2013. The average monthly total family income also increased from $6,578 to $6,720 during that time period, and the average monthly total household income also rose slightly from $5,623 to $5,656 during that time period.

Individuals with an associate degree or vocational certificate also saw modest increases in their average total income from 2012 to 2013, increase from $8,553 in Q1 2012 to $8,714 in Q1 2013. This group also saw a slight increase in their average total monthly income. However, at the family and household levels the average total income decreased slightly within that same period, dropping from $15,711 to $15,507 for total family income and from $13,073 to $13,006 for total household income. Similar declines were seen in these groups’ average total monthly incomes.

Slight increases were also seen for the total incomes of individuals and families with some college but no degree, increasing from $7,701 to $7,872 between Q1 2012 to Q1 2013 for average total personal income and $17,630 to $17,705 for average total family income in the same period. There was a decline in this category for average total household income, which dropped slightly from $14,832 in Q1 2012 to $14,755 in Q1 2013. Similar trends were seen for the average monthly total incomes of each group.

Interestingly, the average total income and average monthly total income for all three categories – individual, family, and household – decreased from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013 for the high school graduate and post-graduate degree groups, while at the same time increasing among those with less than high school degrees.

Earnings

The Census Bureau also released data on average total earnings and average monthly total earnings for Q1 2013, which showed similar trends when broken down by educational attainment.

The average total personal earnings for college graduates in Q1 2013 were $15,102, up from $14,900 in Q1 2012. Similar increases were seen for this group in the family -- $18,871 in Q1 2013 compared with $18,580 in Q1 2012 – and household -- $16,837 in Q1 2013 compared with $16,617 in Q1 2012 – categories.

The data show increases for the average monthly total earnings in all categories as well, with college graduates’ individuals earnings increasing from $3,400 in Q1 2012 to $3,470 in Q1 2013, family earnings increasing from $6,193 to $6,290 in the same time period and household earnings increasing from $5,539 to $5,612.

Increases were seen in the average total earnings among individuals with associate degrees or vocational certificates, up from $9,568 in Q1 2012 to $9,695 one year later. However, these earnings declined for families and households with associate degrees or certificates, dropping from $15,155 in Q1 2012 to $14,846 in Q1 2013 for the family category and from $13,379 in 2012 to $13,304 for households.

Individuals with associate degrees or certificates saw a slight increase in their average total monthly earnings, rising from $2,987 in Q1 2012 to $2,998 in Q1 2013, but families and households saw declines in their earnings, dropping from $5,052 to $4,949 for family earnings and from $4,460 to $4,435 for household earnings in the same time period.

Among those with some college but no degree, increases were seen in the average total earnings for individuals – from $8,359 in Q1 2012 to $8,472 in Q1 2013 – and families – from $16,620 to $16,755 in that same period– but not for households, which saw a decline from $14,731 in 2012 to $14,592 in 2013. The data on average monthly total earnings were similar, with increases for individuals and families but a decrease for households.

Increases were seen for the average total earnings for all three categories among those with less than a high school education, as well as high school graduates in the individual category and postgraduate degree holders in the individual and household categories. Decreases were seen among high school graduates in the family and household categories and for postgraduate degree holders in the family category.

 

Publication Date: 8/28/2015


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